DUP MLA Arlene Foster has been chosen as the DUP Candidate for the forthcoming by-election in Enniskillen. The MLA, who was unanimously endorsed by DUP members at a meeting in Lisbellaw this evening, has vowed to fight to keep the seat held by the late Joe Dodds in Unionist hands. The selection meeting was addressed by DUP Leader Peter Robinson.
Speaking today the Fermanagh and South Tyrone Assembly Member said:
“The passing of our dear friend Joe Dodds was a very sad time for people in Enniskillen. Joe was a dedicated public servant held in very high regard by all people throughout the district – Unionist, Nationalist and others. I was proud to serve with Joe until I had to stand down on becoming Local Government Minister – now as Economy Minister, I am fighting to hold his seat for the Unionist cause. This by-election will be a fight to keep the seat held by Joe in Unionist hands. It will be a hard fight and everyone knows that it will be a battle between the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein as to who will take this seat.
People in the constituency are rightly angered at the behaviour of Bertie Kerr in forcing this by-election in the first place. I know many Ulster Unionists who are deeply hurt by what Mr. Kerr has done in risking a seat falling to Republicans that they otherwise would not be entitled to in a full election. His subsequent public utterances have compounded the anger and hurt out there in the community. I hope the UUP leadership will show in coming days that Bertie Kerr was acting on his own behalf and not at their behest.
The figures speak for themselves. In the last election the combined Unionist vote was 49%, whilst the combined Nationalist total was 47%, with an independent candidate accounting for the remainder. The DUP was the lead party in this area at the last election and only the DUP can stop Joe Dodds’ seat from falling to a Republican. My campaign will be about Unionist Unity – we must all come together to hold this seat. Over the coming weeks I am looking forward to getting out around the doors and encouraging Unionist people, regardless of their party-political allegiances to rally in the cause of keeping this seat in Unionist hands.”